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The entire Shadow Cabinet should be forced to drink Waitrose’s free coffee

John Rentoul

A small cup of coffee 300x225 The entire Shadow Cabinet should be forced to drink Waitroses free coffeeEd Miliband’s more-Blairite-than-Blair triumph of breaking the power of the trade union bosses in the Labour Party was nearly overshadowed by a silly row about Waitrose’s free coffee.

Andy Sawford, a Labour frontbencher, criticised Waitrose for giving its customers free coffee (scroll down), because it undercuts coffee shops and “is acting in a way that will further destroy the British high street”.

Further to our recent debate about what a Blairite is, this incident offers a case study.

A Blairite leader of the party would, yesterday morning, on his or her way to the special conference, have stopped off at Waitrose in Canary Wharf with as many members of the Shadow Cabinet as could be rounded up at short notice to be filmed drinking the workers’ co-op’s free coffee and reading its free newspapers.

Sawford would have been required to withdraw his comments or be dismissed, and to have been filmed enjoying his local Waitrose’s free coffee in the company of Mark Price, the partnership’s managing director, who would have received a grovelling apology. (As it was, Sawford was gently disowned with a comment from Labour HQ: “Andy Sawford was raising an issue particular to his constituency. This is not something Labour is even remotely considering.”)

People who shop at Waitrose and who enjoy its free coffee, many of them of a certain age and a certainty to vote, are those among whom elections are won and lost. A Blairite leader would understand that. Miliband, for all that he is, as David Owen tautologically said, “brave and bold” about the link with the unions, does not.

PS. Downfall parodies are so yesterday, obviously. Except this one, made by Le Creuset Fiend.

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  • newfriendofed

    As has happened before, it seems that on the rare occasions when J. R. has deigned to say something positive about Ed, he finds a way of rowing back within an hour or two. On the specifics, I think Labour HQ handled this issue perfectly. A photo of the whole Labour cabinet sipping Lattes at Waitrose would be about as much of a vote winner as Osborne and Co queuing at Greg’s to take advantage of a sausage roll two for one.

  • JohnJustice

    Enough grovelling apologies already! The gentle disowner was much more apt – and Blairite

  • Toocleverbyhalf

    Round our way snooty Waitrose customers have been heard complaining that the free coffee is bringing the wrong sort of person into “their” shop. Maybe Mr Sawford is after the no-riff-raff vote…

  • Ciaran Goggins

    Blairite would be the erosion of civil liberty, ID cards, DNA databases with 2 million innocent on them, selling arms to Indonesia…

  • Simon Delancey

    Don’t forget control orders, detention without trial, restrictions on the right to protest, and of course RIPA.

  • bugedone

    Andy Sawford represents Corby. His nearest Waitrose is in the next county….

  • Pingback: Blair’s gone, Lord Owen, it’s safe to come back now | John Rentoul | Independent Eagle Eye Blogs

  • Ciaran Goggins

    I ran out of time and space to detail ZaNuLabour’s attack on human rights.

  • mightymark

    Thanks for both closing images which cheered up an otherwise dull day!

  • Pacificweather

    “People who shop at Waitrose and who enjoy its free coffee, many of them of a certain age and a certainty to vote, are those among whom elections are won and lost.”

    Yes, among whom but not of whom. Polls show that only 15% of the 110,000 who decide the election regularly shop at Waitrose.


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